Before the season the Cubs were picked to win the Division but after the first series. After a solid week, the Cardinals look like they’re ready for the challenge.

Before the season even started, everyone was already naming the Chicago Cubs as 2016 World Series Champions. So far in the 2016 season, they have lived up to their expectations.

They can truly do it all. They hit for average and power, steal bases, dominate pitching, and solid fielding but the real scary part about this team is that they are so young.

The 2016 Chicago Cubs are a dominate force, but they’re beatable. This week, the Cardinals proved that they are in the same category as the Cubs despite losing the series.

During the Cubs series the Cardinals showed that they can compete with any team. The series can be summed down to a few plays. The first game came down to Aldemys Diaz’s error and yet another Mike Leake late inning collapse. Game 2 was the battle of the bullpens. The Cardinals and Cubs bullpens combined pitched 7 scoreless innings. Game 3 Carlos Martinez took over again throwing 7 innings while only giving up 1 run.

The Cardinals then went over to San Diego where they faced the Padres in a 3 game series. Game 1 the bats couldn’t support Adam Wainwright’s solid outing. The bats then woke up in game 2 of the series putting up 11 runs against the Padres bullpen. Game 3 Jedd Gyorko took over. Gyorko was a double away from the cycle, including a timely homerun in the 6th inning.

So what exactly did we learn from this series? First, John Lackey’s 2015 season wasn’t a fluke. Lackey’s slider Monday night was fility. The Cardinals hitters were simply praying that Lackey would throw a fastball so they had a chance to get a hit.

Second, the Cubs are the real deal. It is evident that the Cubs went all in this offseason but, as we learned last season from the San Diego Padres, going all in doesn’t always work.

Third, the Cardinals have no room for error in the 2016 season. With the Chicago Cubs playing at the level they’re at and the Pittsburgh Pirates also showing that they are one of the best teams in baseball, the Cardinals will need to play their best baseball all season and have no room for error.

Fourth and most important, the Cardinals are just as good as the Cubs. There’s been a lot of talk this offseason saying that the Cardinals are too old and will not be able to compete with the Cubs for a division title. After the last series, nobody is saying that anymore. The Cardinals have proven that they are capable of taking the division title in 2016 and are able to compete with the leagues best.

Photo Captured by Jasen Vinlove- USA Today Sports